Program Coordinator Kathleen Herbst represented Every Campus a Refuge at the First Annual Southeastern Immigration Studies Association Conference in Charleston, South Carolina. The conference was held at the College of Charleston on February 21st. Participants, presenters, and attendees gathered to discuss “current trends in immigration research and activism.”
Herbst held a panel titled “Dignity and Justice in Refugee Resettlement” and explained how attendees could implement ECAR chapters and find other ways to assist refugees in their resettlement.
“I spoke to a group of about fifteen students, professors, and resettlement professionals during my session. The session was very interactive, and participants were engaged and interested in ECAR. I went through the process of how to start an ECAR chapter, and many wanted to know how they could contribute to their community if there wasn’t a program like ECAR. It was great to be reminded that, with a little information and direction, people want to support their local communities.” Herbst said.
Other presentations focused on issues around anti-immigration, detention centers, education equality, and asylum-seeking, as well as the strengths of youth organizing and advocacy. Herbst was especially drawn to a presentation about youth organizing.
“I attended a variety of presentations and panels, but my favorite was one by a group of middle-schoolers. They worked together to create an exhibit about immigration based off of interviews they conducted with immigrants and refugees in the United States. They spoke to people from a variety of different countries and regions. They shared, in an interactive part, that this project taught them about immigration as an ongoing process. These young students had a nuanced and compassionate view of immigration.” Herbst said.
All in all, Herbst was able to explore organizations who share similar missions to that of ECAR: “to call on every college and university in the world to partner with their local refugee resettlement agencies to house refugees on campus grounds and assist them in resettlement.”
“The conference was a short, but valuable, program. I networked, and we have a few more colleges interested in starting an ECAR campus or collaborating in some way. It’s important that we continue to share information, because people often want to help, but don’t know where to begin.” Herbst said.